Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Carolina playoff preview

The Carolina Hurricanes are one of the hottest teams since the trade deadline. March 4th brought fan favorite and Eric Staal's BFF, Erik Cole back to the 'Canes. Cole hadn't fared well in Edmonton and JR didn't hesitate to bring him back to the Triangle. What else do they have going for them heading into the playoffs?

Goaltending--Cam Ward has been simply outstanding. He was given NHL's Star of the Month for March. He started in 27 straight games (pulled in the 27th, a loss...duh). He's been sharp, confident, and consistent. It's the Cam Ward that won the Conn Smythe in 2006. There may be trouble if Leighton is needed in playoffs, it's been a while since he's seen significant ice time.

Defense--Wait, this is Carolina, right? Since when did they get a solid defense? Joni Pitkanen, Anton Babchuk, Nic "Secret Weapon" Wallin, Dennis Seidenberg, Joe Corvo, and Tim Conboy have been simply awesome. Frantisek Kaberle, one of my sentimental favorites, has been a healthy scratch for many games, but played well in games when inserted in the lineup.

Forwards--Staal and Cole reunited. I peed a little when I heard that on deadline day. Rod Brind'Amour is back after a first half slump. Ruutu's been on the Staal-Cole line and they've found awesome chemistry. "The Wizard" Ray Whitney led the team in scoring (till Staal took off with the return of Cole). Matty Cullen, Jussi Jokinen, and the streaky Sergei Samsanov have also done well. Samsanov only recently had his production drop, but not anything to be scared about, he's been successful in Carolina and tends to be streaky. Scott Walker has been in and out with injuries but if he's back for playoffs it's a plus because he's a big body, not afraid to hit. Chad LaRose. What can you say about this kid? Unsung hero, in my opinion. And a hilarious dollface to boot.

'Canes have one of the best penalty kills in the league, from Ward on out. Power play has been meh, though they have the tools for it to come together and be killer.
If you're into predictions, don't look to me, but here's some link-a-roos where you can find picks (note they're choosing Carolina!)
Barry Melrose Rocks
Puck Daddy
Canes Country
Sweet Tea, Barbecue, and Bodychecks

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